A citizen committee that overseas the city’s parks agreed to endorse an ordinance that bans smoking in municipal parks.
The Parks Commission met Tuesday night to consider a proposed smoking ban for the city’s parks. The ban would affect all city-owned and operated parks — which include Monument Square, Deering Oaks, the Eastern Promenade, Tommy’s Park and Lincoln Park.
The city already has ordinances that restrict smoking near playgrounds, athletic facilities, beaches and outdoor dining areas.
The City Council’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services committee endorsed the public parks smoking ban at its July 19 meeting. Members of the public voiced their support for the ban to the council committee.
Councilor John Coyne, who also is a member of the Parks Commission, said the idea of the ban simply expands on the smoking prohibitions that already exist in Portland.
“We thought it was a great idea,” he said.
Coyne said the city’s attorney is in the process of drafting the fine schedule that would be adopted in line with the smoking ban.
Joan Ingram, the coordinator for Healthy Portland, said Scarborough, Falmouth, Gray and other towns in Cumberland County have adopted similar smoking bans.
For the sake of discussion, commission member Jamie Parker asked if the ban limits a portion of the city’s population from using the park. He said what if there’s an elderly couple who like to sit in the park and smoke a cigarette.
Commission member Jeffrey Scher said he knows people who go to the park and smoke and asked if it’s fair for them to be driven out of that public space. He said it’s possible that the ordinance could allow for a space that’s away from a lot of activity where people could smoke.
Ingram said the ordinance is designed to ban smoking to prevent exposure to second-hand smoke rather than prohibit tobacco products. She said someone smoking a cigarette might deter people from using the park.
“That might prohibit other people from enjoying the park,” she said.
During the committee’s discussion, Troy Moon, the city’s environmental programs and open spaces manager, asked them whether they felt the areas included in the ban could be more widely defined than the list that’s currently under consideration.
Scher said rather than include all the spaces, the ordinance should really focus on densely used areas.
“That’s where I would sort of feel this would be most effective,” he said.
The committee agreed to add three parks — Oak Nut, Heseltine and University — and the city’s dog parks to the list of affected areas. They also asked that park rangers have the authority to enforce the ordinance if it’s passed.
The smoking ban will go before the City Council for a first reading at its Monday, Aug. 6 meeting.